--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---
By COURTNEY PENDLETON The Tattoo To make sure he would get the money to replace old kitchen equipment, the man in charge of city school cafeterias asked a health inspector to write up plenty of violations last year. "I needed some things repaired and I couldn't get them repaired," said Greg Boulanger, director of food service. "The inspector can be your best friend when you need things repaired." After hard-hitting inspection reports last year, school officials approved spending more than $750,000 on the two high school cafeterias for new ceiling tiles, new hand-washing sinks, new exhaust fans and more. The work would be carried out as part of a two- year, $40 million overhaul of both high schools that should be completed by the fall of 1999. Much of the project is aimed at bringing the schools up to current building codes. In September, The Tattoo published a review of health department inspections conducted during the past five years at city high schools. It discovered numerous small problems, including some that linger year after year without officials correcting them. In fact, when Bristol Eastern High School and Bristol Central High School were inspected last April, each had violations severe enough that the health department could have shut them down. After years of pulling scores in the 90s, Eastern last year scored an 81 of a possible 100 points while Central rated just a 72. When the schools were reinspected in November, Eastern nabbed a 91 and Central grabbed a 95 rating. St. Paul Catholic High School, whose cafeteria hadn't been inspected for more than two years, has had two inspections since The Tattoo inquired about its ratings. It got a 100 on the most recent report. Head sanitarian Phyllis Amodio said last year she was especially hard on both Central and Eastern during her April 1997 reports because she wanted to ensure the renovation project would include measures to fix even relatively minor problems. Boulanger said that getting better equipment "is a great advantage." "The last place money is spent is in the cafeteria," said Boulanger. "Phyllis helped me in getting this money through the inspections." He said he showed the architects designing the renovation project the health inspection reports as part of his mostly successful pitch for new equipment. Boulanger said the schools worked hard to take care of problems cited in the inspection reports, including the installation of a backflow protector in Central's kitchen and painting coolers and freezers. But some of the items require buying new fixtures -- which should be taken care of during the renovation. Two basin sinks will be replaced, Boulanger said, by ones with three basins that allow employees to follow smoothly the wash, rinse, and sanitize cycle for proper cleaning of dishes. Part of the project aims to minimize trips to the dumpster by installing a new machine that will grind up styrofoam trays and other trash into small pellets, he said. Boulanger said he is still hoping to get approval for a new walk-in freezer and built-in cooling racks to hold desserts and other cold foods for students to grab as they go through line.